The Free Online Dictionary defines “political” as “of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government, politics, or the state”. Urbandictionary.com carries it to another level, defining it as “an adjective used to describe actions or statements which are self-serving”. They explain, “Political works typically involve half-truths, hidden motives, deceptiveness, faked integrity or sincerity, or false advertising via exaggeration.”
If that second definition reflects the perception of the general public (especially those under 40 years old), it is no wonder that ordinary citizens who might otherwise want to serve in their communities are allergic to anything smelling of politics.
Daddy always said that citizens should pay close attention to local politics, and national ones would take care of themselves. By this he meant that if we selected intelligent, upstanding, ethical people to serve on our city councils and boards of supervisors, these people would get the grass-roots training that would suit them for state offices, and eventually national service.
Unfortunately, the cart is often before the horse in our modern political scene. Someone who aspires to a state or national office uses the power of his or her political party to get them elected to that local office, not because of a particular desire to serve the community, but purely as a stepping stone. And the financial reality of political advancement is that it costs such an exorbitant amount to run a campaign that only the extremely well-heeled or beholden candidate can take part. Many politicians say and do whatever they think those in a position to help them want to hear, in order to lock up that lucrative endorsement or generous donation. Hence our suspicions about hidden motives and faked integrity.
In order to fix the unholy mess we now call politics, drastic changes must happen. Massive campaign reform that levels the financial playing field by mandating bargain-basement spending allowances for EVERY candidate would be an excellent beginning. Not only limits on the amount a private citizen, advocacy group, or political action committee could donate, but how much a candidate could spend, would mean that an ordinary citizen with a desire to serve would have just as much opportunity to go before the voters as one born into money, or backed by a huge corporation with a political agenda.
I wonder if it could really happen? What do you think?